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Old 11-13-2007, 09:27 PM   #1
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Superstitious Players

While skimming the archives of a certain mud's forums, I was impressed by how many superstitions took root - due in large part to players who assign meaning to the effects of random number generators - only to be eventually debunked by the mud's admins. I am wondering how far you could go to capture this phenomenon as an intended feature of a mud.

What could a mud do to both maximize the superstitions of its players and/or maximize the fun such superstitions could provide for the players?

One crude way to nurture superstition may be to throw a fake score up with the main stats or scores of each character. Call it "Karma" or something. Create several random number generators, one for each individual, one for each class, one for each race, etc. Combine these numbers to shift each individual's Karma score.

Anyone who tries to analyze the number would be able to pick out the relation to individual, class, race, etc. However, assigning meaning would only be possible by creating superstitions. Superstitions for individual behavior, superstitions for class behavior, superstitions for race behavior, etc.

I wonder if lasting cultures and character quirks could be created by this method, or by more refined means.

Last edited by Burrytar : 11-13-2007 at 09:43 PM.
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Old 11-14-2007, 12:08 AM   #2
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Re: Superstitious Players

I suppose my question is: Why?

Then again, I come from a viewpoint that, generally speaking, basic game mechanics (like stats) should have uses that players can more or less figure out.

If you ran a game where no one knew what kind of 'dice' were used, what ability/stat scores meant, and generally kept players in the dark except for these obscure numbers, you might get something, but it'd be hard to isolate it to the 'karma' stat that you speak of.

On a game I was delving into some code for, I remember there was an ability that supposedly raised certain skill levels, and everyone believed it did. However, after delving into the code, I realized it was actually not working. Take from that what you will.
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Old 11-14-2007, 10:26 AM   #3
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Re: Superstitious Players

Let's say "why" is outside the scope of this discussion. Or if need be, assume this is a personal preference. Or maybe it's an evil plot to brainwash players and take over the world.

And yeah, doing nothing but trying to confuse your players would be silly, but it's not really what I suggested with the example. In any case, ignore the example if you want. The issue is, how can you get players to create their own meaning, rather than only explore the story created by the imms?
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Old 11-15-2007, 02:01 PM   #4
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Re: Superstitious Players

You could plant a lot of red herrings or simply put in code to support the biggest superstitions.

Players have a ton of superstition on our game, and some of them are truly outrageous and amazing. There's a rumor flying around that if enough players get on the boat, it sinks, so I've seen players actually trying to kick others off the boat saying it was too full. There's no code to support this. (Sorry for debunking the myth, guys!) It was created, I think, when a boat sank during an RP event, though no one was on board, and people simply saw the world announcement that the boat sank. They applied their own guesses to what happened, and that simply got handed down as myth.

Players will create their own guesses and meanings as long as the game isn't completely linear. Heck, we had a group of players that would do a "gem" dance everytime before they engaged in combat because they swore up and down that it would make a specific type of gem drop.

I think that if you have things that happen out of the ordinary every now and then, players will build their own mythology out of their interpretation of the events.

Care to share some of your mud's superstitions? This is something that's always interested me.
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Old 11-16-2007, 05:14 AM   #5
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Re: Superstitious Players

This isn't a phenomenon specific to muds, of course. Humans are very good at seeing patterns, even when these patterns don't exist. Combine that with the someone passing something along then another person repeating what they heard as gospel and you have some truly bizarre things recited as absolute fact. It has made me even more skeptical about things in the Real World than I already was.
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Old 11-16-2007, 08:13 AM   #6
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Re: Superstitious Players

I've come across a few. One was that different races would have ideal mud hours during which they'd get the best stat gain when leveling. And perhaps the funniest one was that you'd get better stat gains if leveling while sleeping, which made for excellent pk opportunities with a rogue.

There's also an amazing tendency to believe in broken game mechanisms, kind of like with politics.
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Old 12-05-2007, 01:40 AM   #7
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Re: Superstitious Players

Originally Posted by Mina View Post
There's a rumor flying around that if enough players get on the boat, it sinks, so I've seen players actually trying to kick others off the boat saying it was too full. There's no code to support this. (Sorry for debunking the myth, guys!)
When I played Threshold years ago (like, 6-7 years?) someone famous told me that and I believed it. I used to get very worried whenever I got on the boat, hoping it would get to the other side as fast as possible, even if I was the only one on it. That's one thing I loved about the game - not being paranoid, but the fact that so much stuff was player created and there was no helpfile to tell you what was rumour and what was fact.

Most superstitions I've seen on many games are about leveling gains, due to their importance to people. I've heard that it's best to level: when hungry, thirsty, full, sleepy, rested, resting, invisible, not fighting, when you get the killing blow, when you kill a monster that's a higher level than you, when you level during double exp, when it isn't double exp, if you kill a mob that isn't the same race as you, when you don't have the sanctuary spell on, by killing with a melee hit even if you're a mage, by killing with magic, by leveling via a quest rather than combat, when it's your character's birthday, when it's night, when it's day, when there's an eclipse...

Clearly most of those are contradictory and there's no evidence to support them, but people get a good gain, pick out some circumstances surrounding it and pass them down as fact, and there you go. I've seen people idle for hours and hours just so they can level at an "auspicious time" - and then complain that it's a bug when they get a bad gain.
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Old 01-09-2008, 05:05 PM   #8
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Re: Superstitious Players

This is all very interesting. There are several superstitions associated with JTrek.

Just to clarify a little on the game I'm referring to, which bears no resemblence to a MUD, JTrek isn't a diku-ish scrolling-adventure game, but rather a PK space-combat/flight simulator that uses a "scanner/tactical display" field, in which the numbers representing a ship's condition are updated through curser movement sequences. So, for example, as your ship takes damage, or changes speed, the value stays in the same spot on your screen. All you'll see is "Damage: 0"
change into "Damage: 5" or whatever.

One myth is that if your shields are raising,(they increase by 1% per second) your ship will heal damage faster. The truth is, it's really just a matter of "watching water boil". So while the player has other things going on at the same time, he perceives that the damage is being healed faster, which supports the superstition. I'll often see players lowering their shields, just so they can be "raising" them while they heal their damage.

Another of my favorites, is that if you dock your ship at every planet and base in the game, in the proper sequence, you'll unlock a "Q" class ship, which is virtually omnipotent. This legend is supported by the fact that there is indeed a "Q" class ship, which is used by admins for testing/debugging. The only real way to get one, is to go into the database and manually change an exisisting ship's class from X(whatever class it is) into the "Q" class. The hilarity of this one is endless, as we tell the players that it doesn't work, but nonetheless, players will spend hours, cruising from planet to planet, hoping that they will get the sequence right. With 216 planets/bases, spread out over six massive quadrants, a player might waste a week of their life trying to get something, which even if they did get, would be deleted in short order by a "real" admin.

One way to perpetuate myth and superstition, is to plant actual "bugs" and easter eggs(though nothing that would give a player any real advantage). The speculation it causes among players can lead them to draw their own conclusions about the actual mechanics of a game.. and in turn garner more interest in the game among the existing player base. An example of this in JTrek, could be the "double gold chunk" bug(actually a feature) which can be turned on or off, serverside. This feature causes, on a purely random basis, a second "chunk" of gold to appear shortly after a player dies. The second chunk is the exact same amount as the normal one, and it appears in exactly the same spot. This has led to a lot of discussion among the players, as to whether it's more likely to appear if the dying player detonates vs. running out of life support, the distance to the other ship, the distance to a planet, ext.

Last edited by obit : 01-09-2008 at 05:08 PM. Reason: typo :P
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